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17 March 2013

Where in the world is Cameron, day 1, New Zealand edition


Over the next few days (where I am, it’s Monday, so that’s a hint) I’m going to use my blog to highlight my travels through Australasia. This series is basically my take on Where In The World is Cameron (some wonder where I am, intellectually, all of the time, let alone when I’m on the other side of the world) for the next week. Hopefully for those of us not from the Antipodes, this will give you an American’s/Yank’s/Septic Tank’s/Seppo’s (yeah, the nicknames get less and less loving from left to right) take on what user groups are like in other countries. At the end of the day, we all speak Oracle, and the really awesome and cool (ahem) amongst us speak Oracle EPM, so I am looking forward to seeing how things differ from the US of A.

Day 1, NZOUG 2013, 18 March 2013

The kickoff, 9:30 am NZDST

Would you believe that New Zealand is a long way from the East coast of the States? Well, it is, but I’m here, somehow, and I am writing this in the kick off session of NZOUG (btw, last night I was lectured, and then tested, quite closely, on my ability to say “N-Zed-O-U-G” – I am happy to report that a lifetime of watching Trevor Howard and John Mills movies about Splendid English Chaps and Beastly Everyone Else well prepared me for this linguistic challenge) 2013.

This morning I’ve listened to man-without-a-country NZOUG president Francisco Munoz kick off the conference, Peter Idoine the NZ Oracle MD welcome everyone to New Zealand’s once-every-18-months conference, and now Stuart Speers the Platinum Sponsor talk about the cloud. As all seven or eight of you that follow this blog know, I am a huge fan of the cloud and use it all the time for EPM. No need to sell me on the cloud Stuart, I am 100% on board with the message. :) Okay, he’s not speaking to me, but I am a huge proponent of cloud functionality. It is The Way of The Future.

The keynote

The leadup

So this is a bit embarrassing as someone who makes his living off from Oracle products. I have never listened to Tom Kyte speak – I suspect that fellow Essbase Hackers (again, all seven or eight including my Mum) of you are also likely similarly ignorant of probably the biggest name in the Oracle database world. This is a function of Oracle-is-bigger-than-the-sun and the siloing of many of the products, or maybe the siloing of my technical knowledge. No matter, I haven’t seen him speak and I am really looking forward to it.

The Tom Kyte update, 10:15 NZDST, 18 March 2013

OMG, this guy I like – “I dream in SQL”. Yup, that is my kind of guy. He loves SQL as much as I love Essbase – maybe more, which is saying something.
Perspective is a funny thing – for an EPM guy, I like to flatter myself that I have a decent basic understanding of SQL and have used that SQL hacking (sort of like my Essbase hacking) for fun and profit. I am not 100% deluded as I have always realized that I’m just scratching the surface with my knowledge level. Having said that, OMG yet again – nothing like a reminder of how basic basic really is when one bumps up against a master at a technology. No surprise to the rest of the world, Tom really knows what he’s talking about.

There is a lot of buzz around 12c and to quote Tom, it is “coming out soon”.

The break, 10:50 am to 11:10 am

Just like Kscope, between sessions there’s the ability to walk the vendor booths. And of course the really important stuff is just below:
Flat blacks (Americanos, sort of), flat whites (café au laits, sort of), espresso, mmmmm. What was I here for again? Oh, right, NZOUG. And here’s the user group booth.

Babar Jan-Haleem, BI Futures, 11:10 am to 12:00 pm, NZDST

I begged, harangued, and bothered Bambi Price, and Erica Harris, and Kay Galbraith, and Babar Jan-Haleem himself to come to NZOUG and talk BI futures. Perhaps they all realized I wasn’t going to go away until he said “Yes”. And I quite happy to say that he is here, and is talking about BI futures. But what is this talk about Exalytics being anything more than the biggest and baddest Essbase box in the world? There’s more to life than Essbase? Apparently so.

Charles Pinda, Financial Results with EPM, 12:10 pm to 1:00 pm, NZDST

Ah, Oracle presales, but I like him. :) I kid, I kid. These guys are great – I have *tried* to do it and good grief is that hard to do (I might add that I ran away from it as fast as my little legs would take me). Implementation geeks like me cannot exist (or at least cannot earn a living) without guys like Charles and the sales reps he supports. And to be fair to them, they tend to have a much broader view of the tools, needs, the market, etc. than Essbase/Planning/ODI/whatever hackers tend to have. They have to speak to multiple products, multiple industries, and multiple customers, all at the same time.

So what’s this session all about? Smart View, for sure. And from an Essbase geek’s perspective, the fact that has reached parity with the add-in, well…that’s it for me from a tool perspective now that I can seamlessly use Planning with Excel.

Project Financial Planning – the prebuilt colossus known as PFP (there is some really cool BSO and ASO integration behind the scense). Personally, from a Capex and even Workforce perspective, this has to be the future (no, that is not official Oracle-speak, just what appears to be obvious to me and of course I could be wrong). It’s focus is long term projects and yes, I have tried to do this in “normal” Planning and it is sort of a pain to do. Given its name, it isn’t super surprising that PFP is a better fit for this kind of Planning. Btw, this may either make you sad or jump for joy (I tend to be in the latter camp) – no EPMA.

Charles just talked about Decision Management – this is really cool – it’s a summary of budget requests with narrative justification and supporting detail. This is a new feature of Public Sector Planning and Budgeting aka PSPB as of I don’t do PSPB but this is something that really ought to be in “normal” Planning IMHO.

Richard Philipson, Exploring Oracle BI Apps: How does it work and what do I get ?, 2:30 pm to 3:20 pm, NZDST

I know Richard from multiple Kscopes – now I’m sitting in on his BI Applications suite session. There are multiple apps around Sales, Financials, HR, Marketing, Procurement & Spend, Supply Chain – who knew? Not me. And that is why I come to conferences like this – the world I need to learn is large, the amount of information I actually know is really pretty small, something has to bridge the gap, ergo user conferences like NZOUG 2013.

And what makes up BI Apps? An ETL tool, a central console to manage anything, built in ETL adaptors, a unified data model, and reports – ta da, BI Apps.

Richard’s presentation is showing Informatica (I think that this is actually as the BI Apps packages are sold from Oracle which is a bit confusing although I could have it wrong) as the ETL tool, but ODI can be part of this as well, and that’s how the BI Apps hook into the transactional system. A data warehouse is at the center (hmm, should that be centre or is that just too twee for words?). Just like ODI, OBIEE has physical and logical layers hung off the DW to come up with reporting.

(Hmm, there’s a Q&A going on right now about the Informatica vs. ODI issue – it sounds like Informatica is the historical solution but the future is likely to be ODI.)

Yr. Obdnt. Srvnt., The spreadsheet management system known as Dodeca, 3:40 pm to 4:30 pm, NZDST

Hmm, tough to say if this was a success or not. Most of the presentations here tend not to be super technical, at least in the BI/EPM track. This presentation was pretty technical, and I’m not 100% sure I hit the mark with this one. OTOH, I did see people furiously scribbling down notes (although I have to wonder if they were writing down what needs to be related to the NZ Ministry of Health as I could be a hazard to the public when I am at full chat) as I ranted and raved (in a positive way) about Dodeca so maybe it wasn’t so bad. You decide – I’ve stuck the full presentation right here. This presentation is pretty big (34 megabytes) because of the embedded movies – You Have Been Warned.

Dan O’Brien, Oracle Business Intelligence: Model First, Build Later, 4:40 pm to 5:30 pm NZDST

High concept – Agile development with OBIEE.

Everything else concept – multiple techniques to quickly model business processes to OBIEE applications without going through a complex bottom-up build process.

This is pretty interesting stuff as Dan is talking about a bunch of different strategies about how to get round the formal, inflexible, “normal” way of developing OBI applications. Really the issues he’s talking about apply equally to EPM.

NB – One really funny comment in his presentation – “spreadmarts”. This is totally in line with my Dodeca presentation – you know your system/implementation/company is in trouble when really big spreadsheets become data marts. Spread + mart = spreadmart.

The end of today

Well, not really the end, but the end of what I’m going to blog for now. There’s a NZOUG event tonight at 7 pm and I hope to get a good sleep tonight. I have really totally given up trying to figure out what time it is, or what time my body thinks it is, and just think about strategies for blissful rest.

And that’s where I’m going to end this post.

Be seeing you.

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